Today I was over at someone's house and I noticed that her dog had chewed on a couple of her daughter's barbie dolls. The thighs had some teeth marks and the arms had little stubs where the hands used to be. It reminded me of all of my chewed up dolls and made me a little nostalgic for the days when I had my love affair with barbie dolls.
As far back as kindergarten I can remember playing with Barbies. I dressed as a Barbie for Halloween that year, even though the costume basically consisted of a plastic smock and a mask I wasn't allowed to wear. Instead my mom put makeup on me, probably blue eye shadow and pink lipstick, because that was Barbie's official makeup look of the 80's. I tried to give Barbie a makeover once too, so I cut off her hair. I thought with the shape of her face and her high cheekbones she would look cute with a bob. She didn't. If you've ever experimented with the length of Barbie's hair then you know if you try and cut it short it sticks straight up and you can see all of the little places where they put the hair into her head. It's not attractive at all.
Nicole and I always played Barbies together. I remember always trying to convince her to let me play with whatever brand new doll she got for her birthday, even though at my birthday there was no way I was gonna let her play with my new Barbie. I used my newest Barbie for bartering when I tried to convince my sister to let me play with her doll. If she let me play with her brand spanking new doll with its permanently in high heels feet and still untangled hair then I would let her play with my "new" Barbie, even though it was 5 months old by that point. She usually gave in too. Never underestimate the bargaining skills of a bossy older sister.
We played Barbies together pretty much our whole childhood. Sometimes we would gather them up, get them all dressed up nice and do all of their hair. Barbie needed to look her best in case the one Ken doll that we had showed up. We also liked to make Barbie go swimming in the bathtub. In case you didn't know, the faucet makes an excellent high dive and Barbie can do lots of awesome dives and flips off of it. She will even jump off of the shower head when she's feeling extra brave. When we got to the age where modesty was a factor when in the bathtub, we did the only logical thing to do. We put on bathing suits. We took baths with our Barbies diving off of the faucet wearing our bathing suits. It's even more awesome than it sounds.
Sometimes when Ken would come visit Barbie they would lay together in the bed. Thats all they did. Just layed there. Pretty risque, I know. Other times Barbie enjoyed doing gymnastics. She is infinitely flexible, she can always do the splits, even without stretching. She performed countless floor routines of awkward cartwheels and flips and splits across our long dining room table. She was really quite talented. Barbie always let me braid her hair, sometimes even a french braid if she was going for a fancier look. That's how I perfected my braiding technique and she never complained if I pulled her hair too tight. Barbie was always happy to entertain the dog, even if that meant it chewed off her arm. Some of my Barbie's were scarred for life where the dog had gnawed on their hands, leaving their permanently bent arm disfigured. She always took it like a champ though.
One year at Christmas time my mom told me and Nicole that we could open one of our presents if we guessed what it was. The only guess we could come up with was that it had to be a Barbie. The box was long and thin and pretty much flat, but we still insisted that it contained a Barbie. Is is a Barbie? Its gotta be a Barbie. Are you sure its not a Barbie? It wasn't a Barbie, it was a rack you hang on the wall and hang junk on. Definitely not as cool as a Barbie.
Barbie was a good friend. She never let me down, never talked about me behind my back and she always let me get the last word. She taught me lots of lessons, including never leave your toys laying around because the dog will chew them up, legs can never be properly reattached once they've come off, and blue eye shadow is always classy. She was my favorite toy for a long time and now I get to play with her again because of my ladies. Alana is just starting to appreciate Barbie and all of her girly characteristics, but for me its like I've been reunited with an old friend, and I didn't even realize how much I missed her.